PETALING JAYA: PKR vice-president N Surendran says Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia was wrong in not allowing for a Nov 20 bloc vote to take into account one vote from the opposition which had not been added to the final tally.
He was referring to the speaker rejecting a motion on Monday by Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo to review the outcome of the bloc voting on the Supply Bill 2018 at the committee level for the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) on Nov 20.
Pandikar said he was rejecting the motion because the voting process was carried out in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat and thus the outcome was valid.
“The speaker has now admitted that in fact one opposition MP was present and his vote was not taken into account in the final tally. This led to a government victory on that night.
“Since it is now established that one vote was not counted, the speaker must now order the mistake to be corrected in the record of votes and proceedings,” he said.
The Padang Serai MP said a mistaken result cannot be allowed to stand in the records of the House.
“The Speaker was in error when he did not direct the correction to be made immediately upon discovery of the error.”
Pandikar had defended his decision saying that checks with PKR’s Kapar MP G Manivannan, who was the proposer for the bloc voting and also the person responsible for counting the ballots for the opposition, had failed to count the vote by DAP’s Stampin MP Julian Tan Kok Ping.
“This resulted in the opposition bloc obtaining only 51 votes while the backbenchers secured 52 votes,” he said.
Pandikar added that he had also taken into account several factors during the voting process including the fact that it was time for the Isyak prayers for Muslims when the bloc voting was conducted, that it was night and all the Dewan members were tired after a day of debating.
“When I considered all these, there is nothing that you can describe it, apart from that the (request for) bloc voting was frivolous,” he said, adding that as the speaker he had the authority to allow or disallow a motion for bloc voting, to prevent frivolous intentions by MPs.
Surendran said this was “wrong, dangerous and undermines the democratic nature of proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat”.
“This ruling is unprecedented in the history of the Dewan Rakyat, and has the effect of giving dictatorial powers to the speaker. It means that the speaker can at anytime stop a vote from being taken merely on his subjective opinion that the call for the vote is ‘frivolous’.”
“In claiming the power to disallow a division (bloc vote), Pandikar read out a passage from a book on parliamentary practice in the Lok Sabha in India.
“However, in doing so, the speaker surprisingly overlooked or disregarded the Standing Orders of our own Dewan Rakyat,” Surendran said citing Standing order 46(4) which states that “If 15 or more members so rise, the Chair shall order a division…”.
Surendran argued that because the word “shall” is used, that means the speaker is not allowed to use his discretion on whether to allow a division.
“If 15 members rise from their places, the speaker must order a division to take place.
“The Standing Orders are made pursuant to Article 62 of the Federal Constitution, and thus have the power of law in regulating procedure in the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.
He added that Pandikar’s contention now that the division was not properly called allegedly because it was “frivolous”, has no basis at all.
“Calling for a vote to test the strength of the government or to oppose and defeat a measure is a legitimate tactic in every democratic parliament in the world.
“The government must at all times be ready to demonstrate its majority in the house, and hence prove its right to form government,” Surendran said.